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Jacob Zuma’s son denies offering $40 million bribe to former South African minister

Mcebisi Jonas, former deputy finance minister, said he was offered a $40-million bribe by a Gupta brother through Duduzane Zuma

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Jacob Zuma's son denies offering $40 million bribe to former South African minister
Son of Former President Jacob Zuma, Duduzane Zuma. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

The son of South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma on Monday denied allegations by the former deputy finance minister that he was offered a $40-million bribe.

Duduzane Zuma, 35, was testifying before a judicial inquiry probing allegations that his father organised a systematic plunder of government coffers in a scandal known as “state capture”.

He has been named by various witnesses that have appeared before the inquiry, including former ministers, as having been a conduit for the Guptas, a wealthy migrant business family that allegedly had a corrupt relationship with his father.

Mcebisi Jonas, former deputy finance minister, said he was offered a $40-million bribe by one of the Gupta brothers Ajay, at a meeting arranged by Duduzane Zuma.

The bribe was for a promotion to the position of full minister in exchange for business favours.

Jonas said Ajay threatened to kill him when he turned down the money.

But Zuma on Monday denied any offer was made, claiming that while the “meeting happened” the “Guptas were not present”.

“No offers were made,” Zuma told the inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. 

Zuma’s father, Jacob, testified at the same inquiry in July but withdrew on grounds that he had been “treated as someone who was accused” according to his lawyers. But he later agreed to return at a future date.

Jonas, who was deputy finance minister between 2014 and 2016, said Ajay warned him never to speak about the meeting.

“They would kill me,” he told Zondo, adding that he was “very shaken” after the meeting.

But Zuma rejected Jonas’ version, saying that “when we all emerged from that room, it was all cool.”

The younger man said his accusers could not point to what he did wrong. 

“I find it interesting that I’m always placed at these meetings but I never say anything…. And I’m always a couch or lampshade that never says anything,” Zuma said.

His elder brother Edward and his twin sister Duduzile were both present to show support for their sibling.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s ex-president, was forced to resign early last year over graft scandals centred around the Gupta’s, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers. 

Zuma’s successor President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to tackle corruption in South Africa, which has been led by the ANC party since Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994 after the end of apartheid rule.

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Sudanese protesters call for dissolution of Bashir’s National Congress Party

The demonstrators carried banners saying “Dissolve the National Congress Party”

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Sudanese call for dissolution of Bashir's National Congress Party
(File photo)

Thousands of Sudanese rallied in several cities including the capital Khartoum on Monday, urging the country’s new authorities to dissolve the former ruling party of ousted Islamist leader Omar al-Bashir.

Crowds of men and women rallied in Khartoum, its twin city of Omdurman, Madani, Al-Obeid, Port Sudan and in the town of Zalinge in war-torn Darfur, expressing their support for the new authorities who are tasked with the country’s transition to a civilian rule.

Monday’s gatherings also marked the October 21, 1964 uprising that had ousted the then military leader Ibrahim Abboud.

The demonstrators carried banners saying “Dissolve the National Congress Party”, a correspondent reported.

The rallies, organised by the umbrella protest movement Forces of Freedom and Change, was also meant to demand “justice for the martyrs” killed during the months-long uprising that led to Bashir being ousted in April.

Some Islamist groups had also called for similar gatherings on Monday in Khartoum but no major rally was reported, witnesses said.

Bashir and his Islamist National Congress Party ruled Sudan for three decades since 1989 when he came to power in an Islamist-backed coup.

Protests had erupted against his government in December 2018, and quickly turned into a nationwide movement against him that finally led to his removal.

The protest movement says more than 250 people were killed in the uprising. Officials have given a lower death toll.

Bashir is being held in a prison in Khartoum and on trial on charges of corruption. 

Several other officials of his government and senior party members are also in jail.

Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian-military sovereign council that is tasked with overseeing the country’s transition to a civilian rule, the key demand of the protest movement.

A civilian-led cabinet led by reputed economist Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister is charged with the day to day running of the country.

Hamdok is due to deliver an address to the nation later on Monday.

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Sudan agrees to ceasefire after peace talks with rebels

“Peace is a very strategic goal for us. The transformation of Sudan is anchored on peace,” said Hedi Idriss Yahia

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Sudan agrees to ceasefire after peace talks with rebels
(File photo)

Sudan’s government agreed Monday to allow humanitarian relief to war-torn parts of the country and renewed a ceasefire pact with major rebel groups at peace talks in South Sudan.

Officials from all sides said the new administration in Khartoum and the two umbrella groups of rebels had signed a declaration to keep the doors open to dialogue.

“The political declaration will pave the way for political negotiations and is a step towards a just, comprehensive and final peace in Sudan,” said General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a key figure in Sudan’s transitional government.

READ: Sudan announces “permanent ceasefire” as peace talks hit deadlock

Talks have been underway in Juba since last week between the new government in Khartoum and rebels who fought now-ousted President Omar al-Bashir’s forces in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The new transitional authorities, tasked with leading the way to civilian rule after the ouster of Bashir, have vowed to bring peace to these conflict zones.

The peace talks have been held in the capital of South Sudan after its President, Salva Kiir, volunteered to mediate. Sudan’s neighbour and former foe is struggling to end its own war.

One of the rebel movements involved in the talks, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), said the agreement reached in Juba was a good step.

“Peace is a very strategic goal for us. The transformation of Sudan is anchored on peace,” said Hedi Idriss Yahia, who signed the agreement in Juba on Monday on behalf of the SRF.

READ: South Sudan to hold peace talks between Sudan and rebels

Khartoum agreed to let aid into marginalised, conflict-wracked areas of Sudan long cut off from humanitarian groups during Bashir’s rule. They include Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions.

The talks were almost derailed last week after one rebel group threatened to pull out unless the government withdrew from an area in the Nuba Mountains where it said government attacks were ongoing.

Hours later, Khartoum announced a “permanent ceasefire” in the three conflict zones. 

An unofficial ceasefire had been in place since Bashir was ousted by the army in April, a palace coup that followed nationwide protests against his decades-old rule.

Bashir is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption after being overthrown following months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule.

READ: Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok arrives in South Sudan on first official trip

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Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba resigns from party over stance on racial inequality

“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality…”

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Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba resigns over party's stance on racial inequality
Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba (MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

The mayor of South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg resigned on Monday, saying he was stepping down from the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) over the party’s approach to racial inequality.

When Herman Mashaba was elected in 2016, he became the city’s first mayor not from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) since apartheid ended in 1994.

The 60-year-old millionaire, who made his fortune in black hair products, was one of the most senior politicians in the pro-business DA, long considered a party for middle-class white people.

But on Monday, he quit the DA, which means he can no longer serve as mayor.

“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa,” Mashaba told a press conference in Johannesburg.

He said his decision was sparked by the election of former DA leader Helen Zille as the party’s federal council chairperson at the weekend.

The DA has been engulfed by a power struggle between its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane — a close Mashaba ally — and the old guard, represented by Zille.

Zille has stoked controversy by arguing there were some positive aspects to colonialism.

“The election of Zille as the chairperson of the federal council represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system,” Mashaba said.

The DA has struggled to shed its image as a historically white party. Its share of the vote shrunk in elections earlier this year despite numerous scandals plaguing the ANC.

Mashaba said his city government’s “pro-poor agenda” was at the heart of the dispute.

“Some members of the DA caucus in Johannesburg have suggested that we prioritise the needs of suburban residents above providing dignity to those forgotten people who remain without basic services 25 years after the end of apartheid,” he said.

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